House too risky for insurer

By Laurel Stowell

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SLIPPERY SLOPE: An insurance company will not cover Jackie and Frank Benfield's Whanganui property because the hillside behind it has moved.PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO
SLIPPERY SLOPE: An insurance company will not cover Jackie and Frank Benfield's Whanganui property because the hillside behind it has moved.PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO

A Whanganui couple have been refused insurance cover by Youi because their property sustained damage in June last year.

Jackie and Frank Benfield's Durie Vale Rd house had two slips come down behind it. The biggest stretches 40m across the hillside above their house.

A crack formed but the soil below did not visibly slip.

It must have moved though, because the concrete path behind their house is now 140mm forward, and the angle of the retaining wall that holds the hillside in place has changed to vertical.

The Benfields have been in the house a year. Their annual premium with Tower Insurance was up for renewal, and had climbed by just over $300.

Mrs Benfield went looking for other quotes. One from ANZ Insurance was similar to the Tower premium.

She also tried Youi New Zealand, advertised as being friendly and approachable, and was told it would not insure at all.

Youi communications head Trevor Devitt said the decision was based on confirmation the property was damaged in June.

"Our approach to providing cover is based on underwriting the individual risk address. The premium is always an indicator of the level of risk," he said.

"We would decline to offer cover where either the premium or the risk is too high."

Last year Tower Insurance was dealing with 250 claims arising from the June rain. Its spokesman said the firm would continue to insure buildings for repair or replacement on land council had given approval to build on. The Benfields have been advised to stick with Tower. They are also signed up with advocate Bryan Staples of Earthquake Services, to try for a better offer from EQC to replace their retaining wall and stabilise the hillside.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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